Together with artists from several countries, [Thierry] Ehrmann, who occupies the house with his two Great Danes, Saatchi and Reuters, has painted the two-story house and the wall around it black and arrayed them with giant black-and-white portraits of noted personalities, including eight popes, as well as President Bush and Osama bin Laden.This monstrosity is in France, in St.-Romain-au-Mont-D'Or (which means Saint Lettuce on the Mountain of Gold). We here in Wisconsin understand the mentality of the house artist. We've been to The House on the Rock.
The garden is strewn with sculptures, mainly by Mr. Ehrmann, including a crashed helicopter, a wrecked oil truck marked “Halliburton” and a model of the jagged steel remains of the World Trade Center. A reproduction of an oil platform perches on the roof, which is draped with camouflage netting.
Mr. Ehrmann, who is married and has two children, began the project in 1999 as a kind of monument to his eclectic religious beliefs, which range from Roman Catholicism to alchemy. Hence the popes, but also numerous salamanders, an animal sacred to the alchemists, cut in steel and affixed to the walls of the building.
Anyway, yesterday we were talking about the neighbors who wanted to stop the woman who got the city to agree to cut down three nut trees on her property that were messing up her swimming pool and threatening the life of her grandson. So today, let's talk about a new set of neighbors who are offended by the preferences of a property owner. Let's see if you readers maintain a principled consistency, you who chided me yesterday for taking the neighbors' side and left me exposed as a tree hugger.
... Mr. Dumont has taken Mr. Ehrmann to court, arguing that he has violated laws concerning building within the town limits. In June, the court ruled against Mr. Ehrmann, fining him and ordering him to restore the house to its original state. A final verdict by an appeals court is not expected until September.Okay, discuss the legal question. It's in France, so you can completely make stuff up.
When Marc Allardon, a neighbor, peers across from his yard at Mr. Ehrmann’s house, he sees the crashed helicopter and the oil platform, but they do not disturb him. He considers Mayor Dumont and Mr. Ehrmann equally stubborn. “I try to mediate between the mayor and Thierry,” Mr. Allardon said. “Both are born hardheads.”
Indeed, Mr. Allardon has begun parodying Mr. Ehrmann, decorating his own home and declaring it a monument to a mock religion. Atop a stone column in his front yard stands a statue of the Virgin Mary arrayed in a rainbow-colored garment. A serpent made of pipe wraps its curls around her; in its mouth a sign says, “Let’s Be Tempted.”
On the roof of Mr. Allardon’s house are signs with uplifting words like “Tolerance,” “Utopia,” “Joy,” “Hope.” Artificial flowers sprout from the chimney, which is wrapped in green paper.
Mr. Allardon said he would do more, but his wife, a historian, brakes him. “She tells me to slow down,” he said. And what does he think of “The Abode of Chaos”? “At the start it was shocking,” he said. “Now I like it.”...
[Ehrmann] speaks dismissively of his opponents. “I told them, ‘Don’t commit the irreparable,’ ” he said. “ ‘In your resistance,’ I tell them, ‘you are contributing to this work. This work is encapsulating you, absorbing you.’ ” His friend Mr. Allardon is confident. “It’s like the Eiffel Tower,” he said. “At first, people were against it. Here it will be like that. Some day the Japanese tour buses will come.”
Me, I'd just like to see the movie of this. My favorite character is Allardon. Ehrmann's ridiculous provocation is one thing, but the contrasting responses of Dumont and Allardon are what really makes it. Let's set this movie in America, so we can cast American actors. Ideas?